Cryosurgery

This is a form of treatment which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze an infected area of skin. It is used on lesions, warts and benign skin cancer, e.g. basal cell carcinoma. These extreme temperatures shrink the offending lesion, resulting it a scab which dries out and falls off.

The liquid nitrogen is available as an aerosol spray which is applied to the skin.

Cryosurgery is performed by your GP or dermatologist and is a quick and straightforward affair.

Cryosurgery procedure

This procedure doesn’t require a local anaesthetic but it is an option. The liquid nitrogen is applied via an aerosol spray although a probe or cotton wool ball can be used instead.

This is applied to the skin which gives it a frozen white appearance. This lasts for only a couple of minutes before being allowed to thaw out. This process may be repeated several times.

A scab will form a few days after the procedure. This dries out and shrivels, eventually falling off the skin. This takes a couple of weeks possibly longer if the treated area is on the legs.

The skin may become discoloured: a mark or light coloured scar may form.

You may require several sessions to completely remove a lesion or wart.

After the treatment

Your GP or dermatologist will advise you about the best ways of looking after your skin following cryosurgery. Keep the treated areas dry and apply a barrier cream such as Vaseline. Do not pick or scratch the scab.

Side effects of cryosurgery

These are:

  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Pain/soreness
  • Blistering

These side effects are common to other skin procedures such as photodynamic therapy. Your GP/dermatologist will discuss these before the procedure.

You may find that your skin becomes discoloured or remains numb after the procedure but these will improve over time.